The Printed Circuit Board: What is it? Who invented it? What is it made from? What is it used for?

The printed circuit board is one of the greatest inventions in terms of technology. The common applications of PCB assembly are television sets, radio sets, cellular phones and gaming gadgets.

PCBWhat is PCB assembly? What is it made from? A printed circuit board is the interconnection of electronic components attached on a non-conductive base. A printed circuit board has 2 basic parts, the thin leads and the substrate or base. The thin leads, electrically conductive, are commonly made of metal. The base or substrate is made of non-conductive materials. Some of the raw materials used to manufacture PCBs are laminates, copper foil, copper-clad laminates, and epoxy-coated glass fabric (known as prepregs).

There are 3 general types of boards: single-sided, double-sided and multilayered. The single-sided type has the leads or conductors attached on only one side of the board, while double-sided boards are types where conductors cross from one side to the opposite side of the substrate. Several layers of printed circuits make up the multilayered type.

PCB assembly is electrically done using different technologies. The two known methods are “surface-mount” and “through-hole” technologies. The first, the surface-mount technology, is a method where conductors are directly attached or soldered to the substrate. USB flash drives are an example of this technology.

The older method, through-hole method, uses the method of leads passing through tiny holes on the base, and soldered to connect to the circuits pads on the other side of the substrate. One perfect example of this type is the personal computer.

Who are the people behind printed circuit boards? PCB changed in many ways and continually changes up to this time, and many inventors and innovators are involved. Some of them are Albert Hanson, Thomas Edison, Charles Ducas and Paul Eisler. The German inventor, Albert Hanson, invented his version of the PCB in 1903. He made use of flat conductive foil placed onto an insulated board, which formed several layers.

Chemical method of plating conductors attached on linen paper was invented by Thomas Edison in 1904. Next is Charles Ducas who utilized inks, which are conductive of electrical charges, printed on stencils. This electroplating method of Ducas was invented in 1925. Paul Eisler of Austria invented the PCB for radio sets in 1936.

Eisler’s invention made it to the eyesight of the US Military during the Second World War. One of the greatest breakthroughs of PCB was during this war as it was used to detonate bombs, and used as proximity fuse. It gave way to the victory of the USA against Germany. The PCB concept became commercialized in mid 1950s. In 1961, Hazeltine Corporation patented their version of the Printed circuit board. Hazeltine’s design is through-holed and multilayered. Compound designs came out, in which modern-day PCB originated. Integrated circuit chips were invented in the 1970s.

PCB assembly in general continually improved, and more uses of the PCBs were discovered. Combination of modern manufacturing techniques and printed circuit designs resulted in great changes.

What are the common applications of the PCB? Way back, the PCB was used by the military to ignite bombs. In the modern world, almost every electronic apparatus is made of the PCB. PCB is the foundation of communication devices, gaming gadgets, appliances, automobiles, and many others. It is also applicable in large industries with electronic and automatic controls, like in power plants, and factories.

Wrapping it all up, the printed circuit board started small and unnoticed, yet made it today. At present, this intricate invention makes day-to-day life less complicated in the office, at home, in school, in factories, and in every place you know.


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